On the first Saturday of August, I woke up to a perfectly sunny sky and the news that my vibrant, youthful dad had abruptly passed away of a heart attack in the middle of his kitchen. There are lots of things to be said about the days immediately following that, but to put it lightly, it was the worst. There was nothing I could do to bring my dad back no matter how much I wished for it, and on top of it, I suddenly developed a slew of new responsibilities I never knew existed. As his only child, I was the final decision-maker for everything that happened to his remains, his personal possessions and the plans for his funeral. Luckily for me, several family members stepped in to help me out, but most every plan or legal document needed my signature to move forward, and that was scary. It was like a dark comedy film come to life. Keep reading »
It has been five-and-a-half months since my dad died and yet it sometimes feels like it hasn’t hit me yet. Even though his ashes are sitting in a box in my apartment. He had been absent from my day-to-day life for years, our interactions limited, at their most intimate, to Skype. Then we stopped talking. And then eight months later, he died. After the initial shock, my day-to-day life didn’t seem to be that different. I was used to not speaking to him, and had long ago resigned myself to not seeing him again. I couldn’t figure out how to grieve. Keep reading »
In the few days following my dad’s passing a few weeks ago, I received flowers from friends and coworkers, endless phone calls, emails and Facebook messages expressing condolences, and more than a few people offering to help in any way they could. It was wonderful and comforting, to be sure, and would, I thought, keep me going as I set about tying up all the loose ends of my father’s “estate,” something I assumed would take a few weeks to a month, at most.
Well, a little over a week has passed, the flowers have dried, the calls have died down, and people have rightfully moved on. But, I’m realizing, the shitshow is just beginning for me. I don’t know what I was thinking, assuming that settling my dad’s affairs would be a simple process, but it’s far from it. He didn’t have a will. I won’t have a death certificate for a few weeks, at which point I can then finally establish myself as the executor of his estate, which hopefully no one will contest. (You hear that, uncle of mine?) In the meantime, his house languishes in rural Hawaii, already two months behind on the mortgage payments. The unofficial “tenants” my dad had let stay there over the years have the run of the place; I’ve heard that they’ve already begun selling off his more valuable possessions (there aren’t many) like his TV. And I can’t do anything about it because Hawaii’s tenant laws allow any old person to establish residency in a home by spending a few nights somewhere. Seriously! Crash at someone’s house for a weekend and it’s suddenly your place! I will have to formally evict people who never paid a month’s rent from my dad’s home, as they sell off belongings I can’t even prove are his. It’s a nightmare. Keep reading »
I turned 20 years old this year, and with that birthday came the 10th anniversary of my father’s death. This past decade has given me plenty of space and time to orchestrate my thoughts about losing a parent.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a magical secret to healing. I wish I did. Still, what I can do is let you know what I’ve learned since 2002. I’m going to speak in terms of losing a parent, but, really, almost everything I say can apply to the loss of anyone you love. Keep reading »
Today would have been my father’s 65th birthday. He died this past Thursday, in his sleep, after a 15-year battle with drug addiction and untreated mental illness. I found out on Friday, my 33rd birthday. The last time I heard from my dad was two weeks prior to his death, in an email sent from an internet cafe in Hilo, Hawaii, the town near where he lived. The power was out at his house and had been for two months, because he couldn’t pay his bill. I hadn’t spoken to him, or written to him, or acknowledged him at all since March. Our relationship was, over the years, wonderful and difficult and horrible and bittersweet. He taught me many things and helped shape the person I am today. I’m overwhelmed with sadness, but also relieved that he won’t be in, or cause, pain anymore. Keep reading »
The holidays suck extra hard when you’re trying to cope with the loss of a family member, even if you’re not a Grinch by nature. However you define your family, once someone that was an integral part of your warm and fuzzy celebrations is missing, winter brings a feeling of doom and gloom that all the vitamin D in the world can’t fix. Keep reading »